SSTA Rejects Dundee Management Structures in Secondary Schools

The SSTA conducted a Consultative Ballot of its members in Dundee in response to the Councils proposed Faculty Management Structure in Secondary Schools. More than 60% of SSTA members responded in less than a week.

  • 95% of those members responding do not support the change to a faculty structure for middle management of Secondary schools.
  • 89% of members do not have a clear understanding of how ‘Dundee’s vision to raise attainment’ will be met through faculties.
  • 95% of members do not believe that this change will raise attainment for your pupils. 
  • 94% of members expect the move to faculties will increase their workload

Seamus Searson SSTA General Secretary said “The proposed restructuring exercise is a crude attempt to dismantle and reduce management structures within secondary schools without any educational foundation and a total lack of understanding of how secondary schools operate”.

“The existing system of principal teacher of subjects in secondary schools has been under attack in many parts of Scotland for a number of years purely to reduce school expenditure with little regard to the important part subject specialist principal teachers play in supporting teaching and learning”.

“This sort of policy has increased teacher disillusionment within the profession in terms of reduced career opportunities, increased workload and teachers’ perceived lack of value. It is no wonder we have a severe problem with teacher retention and recruitment”.

“A small selection of comments received from members (below) during the last week speak for themselves”

Peter Thorburn, SSTA District Secretary said “Since the announcement that Dundee Council proposed to move to a faculty management structure the SSTA Officers have been working on behalf of members engaging with council officers. Unfortunately, they have refused to listen to the unions’ concerns and intend to proceed without reaching an agreement with the teacher trade unions”.

“As a consequence, the Dundee Negotiating Committee for Teachers has gone into dispute and further meetings with the council are being sought. It appears the Council is unprepared to meet the teacher union representatives and seek to break the deadlock”. 

SSTA Members Comments

“At present, the staffing crisis within my school has meant that non-subject specialists are teaching core subjects. By changing to faculties, how does this address the staffing situation? The most important aspect of our job is teaching and learning but this move will create further responsibilities for classroom teachers who will have to help to manage the day to day running of the department, particularly with a faculty head who is not a subject specialist”.

“There seems no evidence offered in their rationale that supports the assertion that it will raise attainment”.

“There are literally no studies that demonstrate a link between improved attainment and a faculty structure. I have worked in two previous authorities that employed a faculty structure and found the system inferior to the principal teacher structure”.

“I have spoken with many people from around the country who are already working within faculties. To date, nobody has given me any cause to believe that moving to this system will be a success and I have yet to read of any definitive results to PROVE it is the result of faculties that the attainment gap has closed”.

“We are likely to lose more teachers and less will want to enter the profession. Staff morale will also fall even lower. How can teachers lead curricula development when it is not their teaching subject? It is yet another example of sabotaging the profession, removing/reducing the chance of progression whilst saving a pittance”.

“Students will lose subject specialism and gain bureaucrats. The drive of a PT to create an amazing exciting department will be gone. Who will the expert be? How will newly qualified staff gain the required support and experiences to be the best they can be”.

“Subject will suffer, Children will suffer”.

“I think that this is clearly a money saving venture. Subject based PTs are the best level of management in a school. Once they are removed their work will be passed down onto ordinary teachers, yet again”!

“What evidence is there to suggest that a faculty management system improves attainment? This is a cost cutting exercise no matter what way the powers at be are trying to spin it. This will NEVER raise attainment and this is not the voice of doubt speaking this is the voice of reality and reason. This is teaching in Dundee today. A very worrying time for pupils, teachers and parents”.

“I think that the statements made by members of the Directorate in Children's and Family Services that the move to faculties is an attempt to 'raise attainment' is appalling. This move will not raise attainment for pupils in Dundee. Maybe valuing the hard work of the majority of staff might”.

“More work will be delegated by the head of faculty as there is no way they have the skills or subject knowledge to manage such a massive department. One person cannot manage this as well as teach and deal with discipline effectively”.

“The problem lies squarely with the SLT of Children & Families and in some schools to properly carry out their roles. These senior “leaders” seem to be under the impression that existing PTs will be biting their hands off to get these new posts. I for one have no intention to put my mental and physical health on the line for doing so. Nor do I know anyone else, who intends to. Or at least, no one with proven experience or any credibility”.

“The progression pathway for many teachers reaching the "early-middle" of their career has now been closed and morale will inevitably plummet”.

“I am a relatively young teacher with a young family at the moment, however, it has always been my aspiration to progress further in my career ie PT subject. I feel this opportunity has been taken away from me now and don't understand how I will be given promotion opportunities in the future - there will be more work, more stress, staff morale will be 'zero' & there will be less goodwill among us!”

“The consultation process is insensitive. Colleagues are being asked to discuss possible models for the school. Who is going to propose a model which gets rid of a colleague and friend? This would have provided savings and reduced the number of PTs being pitted against each other in competitive interviews. One story circulating is that there are 32 staff eligible to apply for the PT Science Faculty at a large Dundee school. Imagine the impact on those experienced and promoted staff who are not leeted? Or will applicants be interviewed? Absolute nonsense! Another concern? This is only the start.

“I think we should be saying industrial action will happen if this goes ahead”.

“There has been no CPD session within the authority to provide current principal teachers with any training that outlines specific strategies and processes that will lead to raised attainment. We are all told to raise attainment however we are provided with little to no guidance or instruction on what has worked elsewhere and left to strategise ourselves. Zero skills, knowledge or actual practice training”.

“Raising attainment cannot work alongside such widespread removal of expertise. Dundee will lose some excellent leaders and teachers because of this”.

“This proposal does not get it right for every child in Dundee and certainly not the teacher staff - no-one in Dundee house has thought about staff morale or health and well-being”.

“Reduce morale in staff even further”.

“There is no career progression for aspiring PTs for at least the next 3 years - probably beyond - as all promotions are ring fenced. This will mean that all aspiring PTs will look out with DCC for jobs, and even take sideways moves in the interim. DCC will feel the full impact of this in a few years’ time”.

“Disgusting way to treat teachers who are already stretched thinly to cover teacher shortages and budget cuts”.


30 May 2019